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PH begins quest for 5th straight basketball gold

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MANILA — The Philippines launches its quest for a fifth straight gold medal and 18th overall Wednesday when it battles Singapore as the much-awaited basketball competitions of the 30th Southeast Asian Games get going at the Mall of Asia Arena.

A team managers’ meeting was held Tuesday afternoon where final changes in the rosters of the competing teams in the men’s and women’s divisions can be made. Eight teams will see action in the men’s class while four will compete in the women’s side.

Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore and the Philippines have been drawn to compete in Group A while Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia are in Group B.

Defending champion Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines are disputing the women’s title.

Bernie Atienza, SEA Games basketball competition manager, said the basketball competition will be held as scheduled, one of the disciplines that have not been affected by Typhoon Tisoy.

“We are ready for it,” said Atienza, also the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas deputy secretary general.

FIBA-appointed Technical Delegate Agus Antares Mauro, also the Southeast Asia Basketball Association secretary-general, conducted the draw in the presence of Ms. Tricia Rana, Metro Manila cluster head of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee.

Tim Cone, coach of the Philippine team known as Gilas Pilipinas, was expected to submit his final 12-man roster during the team managers’ meeting. Roger Pogoy, one of the original members of the squad, is out with injury while Asian Mythical team member Jayson Castro had been replaced by Kiefer also due to an injury.

The Gilas men’s and women’s squad will go into action boosted by the double win posted by the country’s campaigners in the 3×3 basketball action last Monday.

The Philippines has won 17 of the 19 men’s title, missing out on the crown only in 1979 and 1989. Malaysia has won 14 of the 18 women’s crowns. The Gilas women’s best finish in the games was a silver medal.

Pending Cone’s announcement of who will replace Pogoy, making up the Gilas men’s squad are Japeth Aguilar (Barangay Ginebra), June Mar Fajardo (San Miguel Beer), Marcio Lassiter (San Miguel Beer), Vic Manuel (Alaska), Stanley Pringle (Barangay Ginebra), Kiefer Ravena (NLEX), Jeth Troy Rosario (TNT), Chris Ross (San Miguel Beer), LA Tenorio (Barangay Ginebra), Christian Standhardinger (NorthPort), and Matthew Wright (Phoenix).

Making up the Gilas women are Ana Alicia Katrina Castillo, Afril Bernardino, Maria Beatrice Daez, France Mae Cabinbin, Janine Pontejos, Ria Joy Nabalan, Jack Danielle Animam, Eunique Chan, Marizze Andrea Tongco, Danica Therese Jose and Kelli Casey Hayes.

Gilas women’s coach Patrick Aquino is also set to finalize his lineup due to an injury suffered by Gemma Miranda. (PR)